A guide to buying property at auction, including repossessions

More homeowners than ever are now facing repossession

If you are trying to avoid repossesion, what are your rights? What is the law concerning reposession? How can you stop repossession of your home? The words “your home is at risk if you do not keep up with your payments” mean exactly what they say.

Top Tip

If you are falling behind with your mortgage payments, or loans secured on your property and are facing property repossession, seek advice as quickly as possible! If you know that you are in trouble and you won't be able to meet payments, then get advice now - don't leave it until it is too late.

Key Fact

If you have been summoned to court by your lender, and the judge has made a suspended possession order, you are able to remain in your home as long as you keep to the conditions set by the court. If you miss even one payment, your lender can apply for a bailiff's appointment straight away. There isn't usually another hearing and you may only get a few days' warning before the bailiffs arrive.

Key Fact

Property repossessions reached a a 12-year high in 2008. Hhomebuyers lost 40,000 properties in 2008 through repossesion. Private forecasts from home loan firms forecast at least 75,000 repossessions in 2009. (Source Guardian)

The managing director of economic forecasting agency, Capital Economics, has predicted that mortgage repossessions could rise to 90,000 during 2009.

Key Fact

In 2008 cases of mortgage arrears of three months and more rose 31% over the year, to 377,000. The increase accelerated during the final quarter with around 68,000 homeowners moving into arrears.

Facing Repossession? House and property repossesion advice.

With most mortgages if a borrower falls behind with mortgage repayments (mortgage arrears) the lender is legally entitled to repossess the property. You can usually be in arrears for at least 2 months before your house can be repossessed. The exact period will be spelt out in the terms and conditions of your mortgage agreement.

Look for the heading "Power of Sale" or Default in the terms and conditions of your mortgage agreement. The wording is typically reads “you must immediately pay us all the money you owe us if… you are more than (x) months late in paying any money under the loan agreement”. The lender may have to make a written demand for the money before it is technically due.

The first and most important piece of advice is therfore to look at the terms and conditions of your mortgage and make sure you understand them fully. If not seek legal advice and get them explained to you.

One way to delay house repossesion as long as possible is to pay as much as you can be afford so that the arrears are kept below the repossession level (typically 2 months) for as long as possible.

Warning The mortgage terms may entitle the lender to add late payment fees directly to the arrears so the arrears can be increasing at a much faster rate than you think. If you miss a pmortgage repayment and slip into arrears ask for a statement of account for your mortgage so you know exactly what is being added to the arrears.

If you do not have negative equity and you are facing repossession consider selling your house at auction. This is often the best option for a quick sale. The process can easily take less than two months. People who buy property at auction tend to be cash buyers or will already have their finance in place. The highest bidder will also have to pay the deposit as soon as the auction is over. Once a winning bid has been made on a property sold at auction the buyer is obliged to complete the sale within 28 days.